A last minute town hall-style debate will pit Hillary Clinton against her leading Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders. The unexpected event was announced by CNN and will take place during prime time a week before the Iowa caucus.
Clinton was expected to win the Democratic nomination easily but Sanders has mounted a serious challenge. The two candidates are now running almost neck and neck in Iowa polling. Clinton’s team will hope an impressive performance days before the Iowa vote will boost her poll numbers enough to overcome Sanders’ momentum. The Vermont senator now leads Clinton in New Hampshire, where the first Democratic primary will take place. Clinton won New Hampshire in 2008.
Clinton has recently launched an effort to associate herself with President Barack Obama‘s legacy. The former secretary of state in the Obama administration has had a complex relationship with the president since he defeated her to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
The threat from Bernie Sanders is believed to be rattling the Clinton camp. Sanders polls higher among women and Millennials, who were previously thought a solid voting block for Clinton.The popularity of Sanders’ left-wing positions, such as free college education and higher taxes on the rich, may be forcing Clinton further left. Her recent comments about ‘curing’ Citizens United echo Sanders harsh words about corporate funding in American politics.
The Democratic debates have been criticized for poor scheduling, guaranteeing a low viewer turnout. The town hall, which is technically not a debate, will likely reach higher numbers of voters since it will air at 9 p.m. ET on a Monday.